All things created Spiritually first

A few weeks ago during my personal study, I came across a couple of verses in The Pearl of Great Price.

In Moses 3:5 we find the following “For I, the Lord Go, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” 

Immediately, I thought of the Plat of Zion and how the gathering places of the Saints were created “spiritually first” and then implemented across different settlements.

This concept is further discussed in verse 7 “nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word” and in verse 9 “For it was spiritual in the day that I created it”.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintain that Joseph Smith, Jr.  was a Prophet, and as such, received revelations for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all temporal and spiritual matters.  Joseph, provided a plat shortly after the place of the New Jerusalem was revealed to him.  The Plat of Zion is closely linked to the concept of the “New Jerusalem” which would eventually become the dwelling place of the Savior during 1,000 years of peace spoken of in the Bible.  There are literally hundreds of individual verses discussing “Zion” and “The New Jerusalem”, here I will focus on a few.

The first mention of the “New Jerusalem” in modern scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants 42:9 “Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God”.  This revelation was dated February 9, 1831.  This verse describes the New Jerusalem as a “gathering place” to become “one” and learnt to be a “people”.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:66 was received in March 7, 1831 “And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God”.  The concepts of peace, refuge and safety are prevalent here.

The actual place for the New Jerusalem was revealed to Joseph while he was preaching the gospel to the Native Americans near Independence, Missouri.  The following revelation took place in July 20, 1831.  See Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-3

“1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.

2 Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.

3 And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”

 

 

 

Image result for missouri natural landscape

I am sure that shortly after the location of the New Jerusalem was identified, Joseph spent much time thinking about how this “city” would be organized in the physical environment.  In 1833, he sent the official Plat of Zion to the members of the Church in Missouri with instructions in how this should be done.  Shortly after the first draft was sent to them, an updated one was created with minor revisions.

 

There is an important pattern here, all things are created first Spiritually, then Physically.  This leads me to believe that the Plat of Zion was a heavenly design; a place that would foster all the concepts of the New Jerusalem in creating a people that would be of: one heart and one mind, dwell in righteousness and take care of the poor.  Out of all the available city designs and patterns available at the time, Joseph chose this one for the implementation by the Saints.

 

In future posts I will attempt to highlight the Spiritual implications of the Plat of Zion in achieving these spiritual goals.

-Ed

Long time no see

In the past few months I’ve had a lot of changes in my life, and finally got around to completing a very important project that was taking up my free time.  The next blog entries will be focusing on the spiritual and physical aspects to the Plat of Zion.

Thanks – Ed

Brigham Young Quotes

“We all concede the point that when this mortality falls off, and with its cares, anxieties, love of self, love of wealth, love of power, and all the conflicting interests . . . , that then, when our spirits have returned to God who gave them, . . . we shall then live together as one great family; our interest will be a general common interest. Why can we not so live in this world?” (Journal of Discourses 12:153)

“Let us train our minds until we delight in that which is good, lovely, and holy, seeking continually after that intelligence which will enable us effectually to build up Zion, which consists in building houses, tabernacles, temples, streets, and every convenience and necessity to embellish and beautify, seeking to do the will of the Lord all the days of our lives, improving our minds in all scientific and mechanical knowledge, seeking diligently to understand the great design and plan of all created things, that we may know what to do with our lives and how to improve upon the facilities placed within our reach.” (Journal of Discourses 10:177)

“Are we prepared now to establish the Zion that the Lord designs to build up? I have many times asked the questions, “Where is the man that knows how to lay the first rock for the wall that is to surround the New Jerusalem or the Zion of God on the earth? Where is the man who knows how to construct the first gate of the city? Where is the man who understands how to build up the kingdom of God in its purity and to prepare for Zion to come down to meet it?” “Well,” says one, “I thought the Lord was going to do this.” So He is if we will let Him. That is what we want: we want the people to be willing for the Lord to do it. But He will do it by means. He will not send His angels to gather up the rock to build up the New Jerusalem. He will not send His angels from the heavens to go to the mountains to cut the timber and make it into lumber to adorn the city of Zion. He has called upon us to do this work; and if we will let Him work by, through, and with us, He can accomplish it; otherwise we shall fall short, and shall never have the honor of building up Zion on the earth.” (Journal of Discourses 3: 314)

Wilford Woodruff Quotes

“[W]e can’t build Zion sitting on a hemlock slab (a crude wooden bench) singing ourselves away to everlasting bliss; we are obliged to build cities, towns, and villages, and we are obliged to gather the people from every nation under heaven to the Zion of God, that they may be taught the ways of the Lord.” (Journal of Discourses 16:268-69)

Land Distribution Among Early Mormon Pioneers

“As the church distributed land, it attempted to balance individual preferences with what was couched as Zion’s welfare in several ways.

First, land speculation was discouraged, and at times not permitted as a per se violation of one’s stewardship: “[N]o man should hold more land than he could cultivate; and if a man would not till his land, it should be taken from him.”Land speculation had proved problematic in other Mormon settlements in the east, particularly Ohio, where those who arrived first attempted to profit at the expense of settlers who arrived subsequently.

Second, land was generally distributed in a manner that put a premium on equity.  Often church leaders assigned parcels by drawing of lots. Properties were often reserved for those who would subsequently arrive, allowing them to enter “the community on the same terms as the original settlers.”

Third, the church would redistribute land if it was not put to productive use. This redistribution largely relied on an honor system (not infrequently pushed to its outer limits), where settlers returned unused land to the church. At a high-water mark of church power, some church leaders even confiscated land to redistribute.”  (Brigham Daniels, p. 15 “Revitalizing Zion”)

Distribution of Early Mormon Emigrants

“One of the key strategies used by the Mormons was to distribute the newest emigrants widely throughout society. This was often done by church leaders identifying a broad range of existing settlements where newcomers would settle. As mentioned earlier, when settlements were established, some lots were left vacant to allow new settlers to move into a community on equal footing with prior settlers in that community.117 In this way, entire settlements would share the pain of integrating newcomers. A second strategy was to incorporate new settlers into a party founding a new settlement. These parties included people with a broad range of skills, which the church had deemed necessary to fulfill its proscribed purpose to found a particular settlement. As mentioned, in each of these settlements the Plat of Zion was used to determine the community’s spatial layout, and land parcels were distributed most frequently on a lottery system. Thus, there were really no slums in nineteenth-century Mormon settlements. People were mixed in society in a way that allowed most people the opportunity to build up the skills necessary to participate fairly self-sufficiently.”  (Brigham Daniels, p.18 “Revitalizing Zion”)